Sydney Monfries ought to be graduating from university this month, one step closer to her dream of a career in journalism. Instead, the 20-year-old US woman’s bachelor degree will be awarded posthumously, delivered to her grieving family.
Monfries, a student at New York’s Fordham University, died hours after falling 12 metres in the stairwell of the campus’ clocktower at 3:20am on April 14. According to local authorities, she and a group of friends were climbing the off-limits building to take photographs of the city skyline, when she fell through an opening on one of the landings.
That same week, another US college student – Andrea Norton – slipped and fell to her death from a rocky outcrop in Arkansas’ Ozarks Mountains while taking a photograph with friends.
Later in April, two Russian teens reportedly died in similar circumstances. According to The Sun, Alyona Anopina, 14, and Polina Kavaleva, 13, were found dead within 24 hours of each other, after each “trying to take the perfect selfies”.
Selfie deaths: a modern “epidemic”?
‘Selfie death’, also referred to by some as “killfies” or even “selficide”, has become a popular narrative for news media over the past few years.
From Meenakshi Moorthy and Vishnu Viswanath, the travel bloggers who fell to their deaths in Yosemite National Park in 2018 after setting up a clifftop photoshoot, to the 26-year-old Filipino tourist who died taking a selfie at a Hong Kong waterfall this year, these types of devastating accidents make national headlines when others would barely make local ones.